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Fibroids are benign muscle tumors arising in the wall of the uterus. They can cause heavy bleeding, menstrual cramping, pain, infertility, and miscarriage.
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The most common symptoms seen with fibroids are heavy bleeding as well as painful menses. Some patients also complain of a fullness in the pelvic area or bloating in their abdomen. If the fibroids are in a certain position in the uterus, they can effect the bladder or the bowel causing urinary and fecal frequency and urgency. Some patients also have a significant amount of pelvic pressure, pelvic pain, and low back pain from their fibroids.
Most fibroids do not cause any symptoms, but some women with fibroids can have:
This answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.
- Heavy bleeding (which can be heavy enough to cause anemia) or painful periods
- Feeling of fullness in the pelvic area (lower stomach area)
- Enlargement of the lower abdomen
- Frequent urination
- Pain during sex
- Lower back pain
- Complications during pregnancy and labor, including a six-time greater risk of cesarean section
- Reproductive problems, such as infertility, which is very rare.
Symptoms of uterine fibroids, or myomas, may vary depending on where the fibroid develops and how large it is. In many cases, uterine fibroids don't cause noticeable symptoms. If uterine fibroids do cause symptoms, they most commonly cause heavier menstrual bleeding, or they may prolong menstrual bleeding to last longer than seven days. Sometimes, uterine fibroids may cause a feeling of pressure of fullness in the pelvic area. Other symptoms may include pelvic pain, frequent urination, pain during intercourse, enlargement of the lower abdomen, constipation, or back pain. In rare cases, degenerating fibroids (fibroids that start to die if they don't have enough blood supply) may cause severe pain.
The most common symptom of fibroids are bleeding and cramping, says Edmond Pack, MD, an OB/GYN at Southern Hills Hospital. In this video, he says that routine examination can discover fibroids as well.
It is estimated that about 80-90% of women who have fibroids do not have any symptoms. However 10-20% may experience menstrual problems, pain, urinary/bowel problems, and a feeling of fullness in the lower abdomen. The size, location, and number of fibroids also plays a role in the types of symptoms a woman experiences.
Menstrual problems: A woman with fibroids may have heavy bleeding and periods that are more painful and longer than normal. Fibroids may cause blood to stay in the uterus long enough for clots to form, which may then cause severe menstrual cramping. Patients with fibroids may experience bleeding in between periods. These symptoms are more common with fibroids that grow inside the uterus (submucosal fibroids).
Pain: Pain and pressure may be felt in the pelvis (lower abdomen) of women with fibroids. The pain is sometimes caused when the fibroid starts to die off due to lack of nutrients and its byproducts are absorbed into the tissues. Some women experience pain in their backs or legs as well as pain during sexual intercourse. Bleeding during sexual intercourse has also been reported.
Urinary/bowel problems: If the fibroids are located on the outside of the uterus (subserosal fibroids), they may put pressure on the bladder and may cause urinary and bladder problems. Some women feel like they have to urinate frequently and some have urinary incontinence, which is the inability to hold urination. Other women may have constipation or develop hemorrhoids if the fibroids are putting pressure on the rectum.
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Uterine fibroids can grow as a single tumor, or there can be many. Fibroids can be as small as an apple seed or as big as a grapefruit. While not all women with fibroids have symptoms, for some, the symptoms can be severe. The problems that fibroids can cause include:
- Heavy, prolonged or irregular menstrual periods
- Severe menstrual cramps
- Abdominal swelling
- Pain or pressure in the hips, pelvis or legs
- Frequent urination
- Pregnancy and fertility complications
Some women with fibroids have mild or no symptoms, while for others symptoms are severe and disruptive. Common symptoms include:
- heavy or prolonged menstrual periods
- abnormal bleeding between menstrual periods
- pelvic pain (caused as the tumor presses on pelvic organs)
- frequent urination
- low back pain pain during intercourse
- an enlarged abdomen, which causes a constant feeling of fullness or pressure
Some women experience iron-deficiency anemia from heavy or prolonged menstrual periods or abnormal bleeding between periods.
Watch as Obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Evelyn Minaya discusses the symptoms of uterine fibroids.
Most commonly, uterine fibroids are small and do not cause symptoms. The main symptoms that do occur, however, can be classified into three categories: abnormal uterine bleeding, pelvic pressure and pain, and problems with reproduction. Abnormal bleeding is the most common symptom of fibroids and typically includes heavy or longer periods. Pain or pressure symptoms are caused by a bulky or irregularly shaped uterus from the fibroids in the uterine wall. These can occasionally put pressure on the bladder or the rectum, causing problems with urinating or stooling. Some women also report pain with menstrual periods (dysmenorrhea) or pain with intercourse (dyspareunia). Fibroids have also caused problems with reproduction that make the uterus unfavorable for pregnancy. For example, they can sometimes cause women to have problems with getting pregnant, miscarriage or premature delivery of the baby.
Uterine fibroids can cause symptoms ranging from heavy bleeding to leg pain. Watch the animation to learn more about symptoms of fibroids.
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